Profile of Impact: The Crann Centre

This interview is a part of CAF America’s Story of Impact on the Crann Centre in Ireland. If you’d like to learn more about the Crann Centre’s work, you can read their full story, Transforming Lives: Crann’s Innovative Approach to Holistic Disability Care, by clicking below.

Profile of Impact

What benefits has your organization seen from a close relationship with CAF America, either through your Friends Fund or as a validated grantee?

Our close relationship with CAF America has benefited us in that we can access funds from United States-based individual donors, trusts, foundations, and corporate donors who can give in confidence knowing that we are a validated grantee. Our relationship enables the U.S.-based corporations who have operations in Ireland to seamlessly match the donations of time and funds which their Ireland-based colleagues choose to give to the Crann Centre. With such a heavy concentration of U.S. companies often having multiple sites here (often with thousands of employees), there is real potential for us to receive vital funding which supports us in delivering our vision and mission.

As a validated grantee, we have the opportunity to benefit from funders who are looking to CAF America for options to give in Ireland to organizations whose mission and geographical location matches their giving goals. Being a validated grantee, donors can give with confidence to The Crann Centre knowing that the process will be seamless.

Being a validated CAF America grantee confers a level of status for the Crann Centre which we value greatly.

What program are you the most proud of? Can you speak more about its impact on the children and families that you support?

One of the programs we are most proud of is our Skills on Wheels Program for people with neuro-physical disabilities. This program is essential because it meets an unmet need and significantly improves mobility, independence, health, and opportunities for education and work.

For many children and adults with neuro-physical disabilities a wheelchair is a lifeline to mobility and independence, Securing the best wheelchair through the public health system is subject to availability and budget. While children and adults will receive the chair that is overall right for them, they are not provided with the skills and techniques to use it in built environments, transport, entertainment settings and more. In many cases the wheelchair is a device which is underutilized rather than a tool to greater independence, freedom, and dignity.

Our Skills on Wheels Program changes this through helping children and adults to master the techniques and skills and gain the confidence to better use their chair in the home, built environments, track & trails and more. As the only community organization in Ireland offering this service on a programmatic basis, since 2018 we have supported hundreds of children and adults towards better health and wellbeing and increased opportunities to participate in education, work, and leisure.

We are particularly proud to have shared our knowledge and methodologies with the teams at Riley Children’s Hospital (Indianapolis) and Indiana University School of Medicine supporting them to establish their own Skills on Wheels Program. With Indiana University we have built a body of evidence of impact which we hope will lead to a greater availability of structured wheelchair skills program globally.

Can you provide specific examples of success stories or outcomes?

A 40-year-old client with Spina Bifida attended our wheelchair skills training program (Skills on Wheels). She has been a wheelchair user for most of her life, but never received formal wheelchair skills training. Consequently, she could not manage advanced skills such as wheelies which limited her ability to access the community environment (curbs, gravel, uneven terrain). She attended the training program and mastered the advanced skills/more complex skills. This resulted in increased confidence and the ability to access community environments which she previously could not. She reports she cannot believe this type of training hadn’t been available to her previously as it has made such a positive difference to her life.

How do you involve the community or beneficiaries in the design and implementation of your programs?

We have a rolling research program which gathers feedback from the children, adults and families who use our services at regular 6 monthly intervals and on an ad hoc basis following attendances at particular programs or activities. This process allows us to incorporate their feedback into our continuous improvement program and to inform our service development initiatives.

A really great example of how we involve our clients was when we recently built our Accessible Playground & Leisure Space at the Crann Centre. We partnered with University College Cork (UCC) to research children and adults with disabilities and their parents/carers for what they wanted from a playground and leisure area, using individual questionnaires, focus groups for more in-depth feedback on design and finally voting on the equipment which would fill the space. We learnt a lot from this exercise, and together we created a magical space of which the families have a huge sense of ownership.

At a strategic level we have four parents of children with neuro-physical disabilities as trustees who work with the other board members and the Crann leadership team to ensure that all service development and delivery strategies are informed/led by the feedback from the children, adults, and families who will ultimately benefit from them.

Does the Crann Centre use the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for characterizing and evaluating impact? If so, can you share how you conceptualize fitting into that framework?

Crann is proud to be working toward several of the Global Sustainable Development Goals’ targets, specifically Goal 3. Good Health & Wellbeing, Goal 4. Quality Education, Goal 8. Decent Work & Economic Growth, Goal 10. Reduced Inequalities and Goal 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities.

We feel that we have the programs and the physical infrastructure (accessible working conservation area, accessible co-working space, and enterprise ecosystem) and the commitment to evidencing impact to have an impact at a local, national, and international level. We are committed to using the proof of concept from our Crann Model of Care and 2 Gen approach to change the system of how services for people with neuro-physical disabilities are planned, funded, and delivered. We understand that all change occurs at a local level and that the delivery of these global goals can and will be influenced by the impact that we and organizations like us are delivering on a day-to-day basis.

Through highlighting our emphasis on the Global goals, our service users, staff, volunteers, and supporters feel part of a much wider effort to ensure the sustainability and equity of our planet.

Are there any innovative approaches to this work either in your field or within the philanthropic sector generally that you’ve recently adopted or plan to implement?

We are the first organization to adapt the Ascend at Aspen 2Gen approach for disability services and have used the 2Gen approach as the basis for our unique Model of Care. We have led the way, with Ascend, in creating visibility on how 2 Generation approaches can deliver services which support the whole family towards better health & wellbeing and increased opportunities for participation in work education and leisure.

We also have the Social Return on Investment (SROI) methodology to better understand what stakeholders value. This helped us to put a fiscal value on our impact which is a very useful tool to influence funders whether private or public. The SROI evaluation confirmed that for every €1 we spend on services our clients receive €4.05 in value.

What initiatives is the Crann Centre focusing on in the next five years and what are the organization’s plans to get there?

Our focus is on doubling the number of families (living with neuro-physical disabilities) whom we support through our high-quality impactful services.

We are also focused on achieving proof of concept for our unique Model of Care through comprehensive research, impact measurement and management programs. We know that our approach delivers better services for families and save health funders significant money, evidencing this through delivering great services will support us in building a sustainable funding model.

We are committed to strategic partnerships which will help us to develop and deliver impactful programs and gather the evidence to deliver growth and sustainability. We have a number of collaborations with leading universities and like minded organizations in Ireland and the United States who share our vision.

About the Author

  • Margot Cunningham

    Margot Cunningham serves as CAF America’s Officer of Marketing and Communications. Her responsibilities include planning, creating, and implementing marketing and communications strategies, with a focus on building awareness of our mission and engaging prospects and donors with long-form content and event opportunities.

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